National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery
4.5
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Monday
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Wednesday
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Thursday
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturday
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday
11:30 AM - 7:00 PM
About
Housed in the Old Patent Office Building, this art museum presents portraiture of prominent figures in American history, from presidents and inventors to even pop stars.
Duration: < 1 hour
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Downtown
How to get there
  • Gallery Place • 2 min walk
  • Archives • 6 min walk
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See what travelers are saying
  • GretchenDK
    Montclair, New Jersey135 contributions
    A must see experience
    I always seem to be drawn to the portrait galleries in every major city I visit around the world, so I had to stop in here as well. Of course, my main reason was to see both Barack and Michelle Obama's painting. But, I also enjoyed the section with all the presidents' paintings as well. One thing, please offer a coat check. I could not stay as long as I might have otherwise if I could have put my heavy backpack and puffer coat away some where.
    Visited March 2023
    Written March 23, 2023
  • Justin W
    Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey3,716 contributions
    I love going to the Presidential Gallery to see the portraits
    What I love about visiting the National Portrait Gallery is going to the Hall of Presidents portraits and hearing everyone's opinions on the Presidents by their portraits. There are some serious debates going on especially by the President Trump, Reagan and Nixon portraits. I guess everyone has their faults. It is interesting to look at each of their lives and wonder what it must have been like for the Vice-Presidents who were trust into the limelight when they became President. It must have been a jolt. Still there is a certain level of respect that you have to have for someone who has given up their lives to serve their country. I also liked the portrait of Pocahontas in the other gallery and think about how her life changed when she moved to England. Don't miss the museum.
    Visited April 2023
    Written April 6, 2023
  • Beth B
    2 contributions
    My favorite museum in DC
    I could spend all day in this museum. I am particularly interested in folk and outsider art and this is really the only option for that in the city but it’s a fantastic collection. In particular I could spend 3 hours alone at The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly. The portrait half of the museum is lovely too, but I am more interested in the American art side until you get to the higher levels of the portraits. The building itself is also a work of art. It’s just so stunning. And the room with the…I don’t know what to call it, it’s not archives but there are shelves and shelves and drawers of things to look at and explore with miniatures and sculptures and small paintings. It’s an incredibly intimate chance to interact with art.
    Visited March 2023
    Traveled solo
    Written April 19, 2023
  • Stephen B
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania33 contributions
    We had a private tour, but it overlapped with public hours
    We had a tour that began an hour before opening time. But that hardly mattered: soon the gallery was filled with others enjoying the same space and exhibits. My favorite was the room with portraits and busts of Washington and Lincoln that I'd never seen before.
    Visited April 2023
    Written May 4, 2023
  • ElvisAndrus
    Arlington, Texas818 contributions
    One of my favourite places on the planet
    Love this place, I have been to Washington four times and I have gone each time. A good portion is rotating exhibits and some of the collection feels like visiting an old friend. I love the courtyard in the middle although it is most special on a cold day. I like the variety and I like what the portraits make me think about. If I can describe a msueum as confident I would do so. A change to my eye was the inclusion of many more Indigenous pieces since my last visit, a welcome addition!
    Visited March 2023
    Written May 5, 2023
  • Clare H
    31 contributions
    Terrific art - very poor cafe
    Fine museum. Well worth taking a few hours to visit - the special exhibitions can be riveting. One note of caution: the cafe is astonishingly expensive and the food poor quality for the cost. Museum of Art cafeteria is a fantastic alternative - highly recommended.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 7, 2023
  • 907blaked
    Tampa, Florida1,419 contributions
    Big museum combined with American Art Museum
    We enjoyed our visit here to the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. The portraits downstairs of the famous Americans were excellent, andthe associated biographies were well done. The section on American Presidents was also well done. It was nice that it wasn't crowded. No admission cost.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written June 10, 2023
  • Southwest_Gaucho
    Lake Havasu City, Arizona1,126 contributions
    Presidential Portraits are worth a stop
    Only had time to make it through the Presidential portraits and a fraction of other displays but it was well done. Everything was logical on how it was displayed in various rooms and there was a good flow to the art. I'm not a huge art fan but the works that are in here are impressive. I would return in the future to see more.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written July 5, 2023
  • jaauoc
    New York City, New York117 contributions
    A wonderful and quiet place to visit, off the beaten path
    We wanted to visit somewhere different from the usual tourist mainstays of DC and this was a lovely place to visit. The portraits of prominent Americans fascinated all ages in my family from teen to boomer. We were there for 2.5 hours and still didn’t absorb everything. Definitely worth a return visit.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 15, 2023
  • flo220
    New York City, New York331 contributions
    Enjoyable Smithsonian art museum
    The National Portrait Gallery shares its building with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. I enjoyed the Portrait Gallery more -- probably because I am more interested in history than art and was able to learn more from the portraits. Museum is small enough to be very doable in a few hours. Free to enter. Cafeteria in the middle of the building is very pleasant.
    Visited August 2022
    Traveled with family
    Written July 27, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
3,592 reviews
Excellent
2,676
Very good
785
Average
119
Poor
10
Terrible
2

Ilene
massachusetts758 contributions
Apr 2023 • Couples
I loved every inch of this museum! In my top 3 in DC along with Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the National Gallery of Art. Holy smokes, I could have stared at Obama’s portrait forever. Simply electric.
Written February 14, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

lalocadr19
Falls Church, VA6,577 contributions
Feb 2023 • Family
One of my favorite museum so many portraits to see, from presidents, painter, singer, athlete. This place has so much to see. Anyone that interested in art this place is definitely a delight. The best part is free of charge and open late during the week. Parking can be hassle but definitely worth it to see.
Written January 21, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Robert D
Brooklyn, New York2,718 contributions
Dec 2023 • Solo
The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) and the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) are both housed in the old Patent Office building. The NPG features portraits of people who had an impact on the U.S. Every year, there is a gallery titled "One Life" that is devoted to various portraits of a famous American. This year the subject is Frederick Douglass.

The NPG had an exhibit titled "1898: U.S. Imperial Visions and Revisions" about the Spanish-American War and the acquisition of an empire by the U.S. Another exhibit featured portraits of all the Presidents.
Written January 4, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

tosl
Jersey City, NJ785 contributions
Dec 2023 • Family
Luckily, we came when the exhibit on US Imperialism was showing, just in time for my daughter's AP class. One can easily trace the course of US history by exploring the Gallery of Presidents. Great curation.
Written December 29, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

txrunnermom
Arlington, TX43 contributions
Dec 2023 • Family
We hadn’t planned to visit, but just stopped in. We walked around for 2 hours. Both teenagers were interested and engaged. It was very informative and organized. We spent time at dinner talking about the interesting things we learned.
Written December 24, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

montanapescado
Albuquerque, NM1,262 contributions
Nov 2023 • Friends
No doubt this is a most impressive collection. I just find that a collection that large so focused on portraits is just too monolithic and doesn't quite hold my interest throughout. It's more interesting as historical context than as art.
Written November 18, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

sfuhere
uk788 contributions
Nov 2023 • Solo
Popped in on a whim as I was close by. I enjoyed myself. I made a beeline for the “America’s Presidents” exhibition, which is probably the most popular part of the gallery. It was busy but not so packed that it made it unpleasant. The area with the more historical portraits was quieter anyway.

My only negative observation is that some of the lockers on the ground floor appeared to be out of order. It’s great that they are provided free of charge (certainly in Britain you’d have to pay) but I must have tried half a dozen before I found one that worked.
Written November 12, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

The_Wanderer1992
Columbia, MD1,822 contributions
Nov 2023 • Couples
My husband and I went to the combined National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum. It's located in a beautiful building. Numerous artwork and portraits are available. The most popular section seems to be the American Presidents section with portraits of all the U.S. presidents from George Washington to Donald Trump. We did not see one with the current president. We tried to do the whole museum in our time allotment, though I'm not sure we covered it all.
Written November 12, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Richard C
Virginia781 contributions
Oct 2023 • Couples
Walking into the National Portrait Gallery is to take a walk through America’s history in a different way than the rest of DC: in the NPG, you find monuments of a different kind -- on canvas, photographic paper, and in three-dimensional brass castings -- and you come face to face with a number of faces whose names define this country’s history. Walking through this past visit, I took in not just the romanticized monochrome image, but seeing also that the curators have tried to present a more accurate picture of the country’s rich complexity. The temporary exhibit when I visited was about the rich and colorful lives of those newly arrived. One highlight in the hall of presidents is Kehinde Wiley’s portrait of our Obama with his recent predecessors (with the exception of Chuck Close’s portrait of Clinton) looking on in staid and reflective depictions, and a life-sized photo of his successor at his back. That leads into a gallery with portraits of leaders of fighters for equal rights. Enter into the NPG and walk through what Walt Whitman sings about in his portrait of America: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” Do visit the NPG, and try not to run from one familiar face to the next; instead wander and read the placards and make new friends. When you get tired, there is plenty of space to relax with a coffee in the courtyard where you also look at the faces of your fellow visitors and museum staff and appreciate a fuller portrait of America.
Written November 1, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

csserious2
Chantilly, VA851 contributions
Oct 2023 • Couples
We have been to the Portrait Gallery to attend a wedding event on a Saturday evening along with 600 guests. Yes, they do have a huge majestic hall to host large gatherings. The ceiling of the hall was three stories high and the inside was beautiful. While we were waiting to enter the venue, we took sneak peak of some of the portraits in the hallway. Parking could be a challenge although garages are located nearby. People usually take metro or bus to cone to visit the museums and art galleries.
Written October 15, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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